| September 29, 2010

Household debt down, but many Americans still defaulting

Although there has been an increase in positive consumer news over the past few months, much of it is still hiding negative statistics.

Research conducted by the Capital Economics Group found total household debt in the U.S. fell $77 billion in the second quarter, according to CNN. However, nearly half of this amount resulted from residential loan and mortgage charge-offs, showing that Americans are still finding difficulty handling their existing debt.

Outstanding credit card debt in the U.S. dropped $93 billion in 2009, CNN notes. However, $81 billion of this amount was due to consumers defaulting on their debt.

Household debt has fallen every quarter since 2008 when the recession originally began. Experts find it hard to use this statistic as an indicator of consumer health when banks are continuing to write off more accounts.

As more Americans continue to default on their credit cards and loans, analysts believe this may prolong the de-leveraging process. Consumer spending accounts for nearly 70 percent of the economy. Households struggling to pay off their existing debt may continue to be less inclined to splurge.

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